- "Freddie the Frog was a professional burglar. He was disloyal to his friends. He was a womanizer, a con man, a home breaker, a thief, a liar and a cheat! So no Rodney, you're nothing like him."
- ― Del Boy after being asked about Freddie by Rodney
Robdal is the biological father of Rodney Trotter, and the biological grandfather of Rodney's daughter, Joan Trotter Jr. A professional thief by trade, Freddie was considered a gentleman by the people of Peckham. People who knew him noted that Freddie had a charming and very generous personality. Nevertheless, Freddie was also a disloyal person who was quite ruthless. Fortunately, his son has inherited little of these qualities, the exception being looks.
In Rock & Chips, Freddie was played by actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, who had originally portrayed his son in the original series.
Frederick Robdal was born in 1919 in London. He was an only child, born to Mr Robdal and Mrs Robdal. Since he had no siblings, Freddie grew close to his cousin Norman.
Freddie's mother died at some point during the Second World War, Freddie had her buried in a church in Hampshire, where he had a holiday cottage. Freddie would later bury his father in the same parish. Robdal remained close to this Church for the rest of his life, becoming an acquaintance of the vicar.
At a young age, Freddie joined the Royal Navy as part of his national service. Here he became a qualified frogman and deep sea diver. This earnt him the nickname Freddie The Frog. Due to his occupation, Freddie spent much of his time in the London Docks. Here he met Albert Trotter, a relative of Reg Trotter, a future mate of Freddie's.
Freddie eventually left the navy, and became a career criminal, embarking on being a professional safe cracker and burglar. His best friend and accomplice was an explosives expert, Gerald "Jelly" Kelly. In about 1949, Freddie was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was paroled in February 1960, at the age 41.
Rock & Chips (1960-1963)
In early 1960, Freddie Robdal became close to Joan Mavis Trotter, the wife of his friend Reg Trotter. Joan was having a hard time with Reg and sought comfort in Robdal despite his criminal profile. In February 1960, Freddie and Joan slept together when Reg was out. Freddie had sent Reg away on a job to Kent and made sure that the car broke down on the way, leaving Reg stranded and unable to come home that night. This meant that Freddie could have his jollies with Joan.
A few months later, In June 1960, Joan discovered that she was pregnant. Unaware of what had happened, Reg said it must have been when he came home one night after a football match, and that he and Joan must have had sex whilst he was drunk. Unknown to Trotter, Joan was already pregnant at the time. She did not tell Reg this and he assumed that he was the father. In June 1960, Freddie, the Trotters as well as Trigger, Denzel and Boycie went on a beano to Margate in Kent for the first Jolly Boys Outing. During the event, they posed for a photograph.
When Rodney Trotter was born four months later in November 1960, Freddie suspected that the boy was actually his son. Joan Trotter likewise knew that there was a high probability that Freddie was Rodney's real father. The pair did their best to keep their affair quiet, but rumours none the less spread that Freddie was seeing a married woman on the Nelson Mandella estate. Joan's best friend, Reenie Turpin, the aunt of Del's friend Trigger, suspected the truth and Albert Trotter, who knew Freddie, was also aware of the truth.
In July 1961, Freddie discovered that Joan was being harrassed by her perverted boss Ernie Rayner. Freddie had Rayner's fingers broken for which he was then arrested by DI Thomas. He served a short prison sentence that would end in February 1962. Freddie told a visiting Joan that once he'd served his sentence, he intended to his country home in Bournemouth and start his new life. He implored Joan to run away with Rodney to live with him but received no answer.
In February 1962, Freddie's prison sentence ended, and once he heard Joan was working for Roland Purnell, Freddie and Jelly robbed Purnell's art gallery. Freddie still vowed to go straight, unaware that Del's engagement to Barbara Bird had ended in disaster. Freddie received a letter from Joan that she and Rodney can't run away with him to Bournemouth, because Joan still needed to stay in Peckham to look after Del and Reg. At the same time, Joan still longed to be with Freddie. She hoped that Reg would die from a horrible, painful disease so that she and Freddie can be together.
In July 1963, Freddie planned a heist that would make him a legend throughout. With the help of Joan Trotter and a small gang, he plotted a bank raid in the City of London. Peckham undertaker Mr. Jahan and Reverend Ian Sturrock, the vicar of Robdal's Hampshire parish were unsuspecting pawns in Robdal's scheme. After a month of preparation, the group were to enact their plan. In August 1963, Freddie and his mates successfully stole a large amount of pure gold bullion. Whilst everybody else was caught, Freddie managed to escape with loot through unspecified means, which he then masterfully hid. Although Freddie did plan to retrieve the gold at some point in the future, he would never get that chance. He died tragically in September 1963, roughly a week after he committed the initial robbery. For further details of the crime and the nature of Robdal's death, see below in The Frog's Legacy.
When Robdal's will was subsequently opened, he had left everything he owned to his lover Joan, presumably as a way to support his son. Of course, given his profession, most of this stuff was stolen and was subsequently returned to their rightful owners. Joan was devastated by the news of Robdal's death and began drinking heavily. Although she did briefly sober up in October 1963, her unhealthy lifestyle caused her to develop an unspecified alcohol-related illness. Ultimately, Joan became seriously ill and was placed in a nursing home. On her deathbed, Joan confided in her friend Reenie Turpin, telling her about her suspicions that Freddie was Rodney's biological father. At the same time, Joan stated that she wished that Freddie had told her what he did with the missing fortune, noting that both of her two boys would have been set for life if she had.
Joan died in March 1964, leaving all of her possessions to her two sons, including Freddie's lost gold. Unfortunately, since Freddie pre-deceased her and never told anybody about its location, no-one knew where the gold was. Reg Trotter abandoned his family not long after his wives death. It is never revealed if he discovered the truth about Rodney's parentage. Del himself remained oblivious to Freddie's identity and Rodney's parentage, although both brothers had their suspicions (see Sleepless in Peckham). Freddie the Frog remained a legend among the people of Peckham for his heist. His role as the local gangster was eventually filled by people like the Driscoll Brothers.
In 1987, 24 years after Freddie died, Del was reunited with Reenie Turpin, at her great-niece Lisa's wedding. There Reenie and Del got talking about Joan. Here Reenie unwittingly revealed to ignorant Del Boy the existence of the missing gold. With a bit of prompting, Reenie eventually told Del a little bit about Freddie and the heist.
She told him that with the aid of his accomplices, Freddie managed to steal £250,000 worth of bullion in the August 1963 robbery, which Del believed would have been worth almost £1-2 million as of 1987, when the episode aired. As of 2020, Robdals gold would have been valued at £1,392,285.96. She also revealed that Freddie had died not long after the incident, leaving everything he had, including the missing gold to Joan. Like everybody else at the time, Reenie had no idea where Robdal had actually concealed the small fortune.
Throughout the conversation, Reenie subtly hinted that something was going on between Freddie and Joan, noting that the latter "befriended" the former. Of course, Del Boy failed to not pick up on this and remained blissfully unaware of what Reenie was implying. As such Reenie did not elaborate on it. Before her meeting with Del, however, Reenie gave the audience an indication of what she was referring to. After bumping into Albert she was reunited with Rodney, whom she had not seen since he was a youngster. Following a bit of small talk with the now mature boy, Reenie whispered to Albert that the rumours were probably right, noting that she could "see the likeness". For the sake of his nephew, Albert led Reenie away.
After the wedding, the Trotters began a search for Freddie's missing gold. More accurately, Del began searching for it, whilst dragging the reluctant Rodney and Albert into his schemes. He confirmed the nature of the heist but came to a dead-end concerning the fate of the gold. After learning that Albert was an acquaintance of the younger Freddie, the brothers were told about how the famed bank robber met his ignominious end. About a week after the robbery, in September 1963, Freddie and his friend Jelly broke into a post office in Plumstead. Intending to steal money from the back of the building, they set up a series of explosive devices. Then, as Kelly was making the final preparations, Freddie the Frog, in what was later classified as a complete accident, sat on the detonator. The two men were killed instantly, and Robdal's body was thrown across the street where it ended up on the roof of the adjacent building.
Throughout the investigation, one thing seriously puzzled Del Boy: why had Freddie left his fortune to his and Rodney's mum. Without realising it, Del then unknowingly answered his own question, when he told Rodney and Albert that rumours were rife that Freddie was seeing a married woman on the same estate the Trotters live in. According to those same rumours, Freddie had a son by that woman, who would be in his mid 20's by now. What Del failed to notice was that Rodney fell into that very category.
The much more observant Rodney, however, picked up on this straight away. Concerned he then asked for more details about Freddie and was shocked to learn that like him, Robdal had a passion for art. Although he knew the truth, Albert assured Rodney that it was just a rumour, whilst also telling Del that he should not dwell on it.
Some time later, as part of his employment for Mr Jahan, the son of the man his father had ordered the coffin from, Rodney was working through the records. There he discovered Freddie's purchase and use of the alias Alfred Broderick. With this information in hand, the Trotters realised that Freddie must have hidden the gold inside the coffin, then arranged a fake funeral to hide the proceeds in. Del knew that this would have been no problem since Joan worked as a secretary at the town hall, giving her access to all of the official documents, which she signed, stamped and then passed on to Freddie.
Knowing that they were now closer than anybody to discovering Freddie's secret, Del ordered Albert to visit all the churches and cemeteries in the Peckham area. He was to look at every headstone for an Alfred Broderick grave. The Trotters searched high and low for the lost gold, trying local stonemasons and church records on top of trawling through every cemetery and church in South London. The search turned up nothing.
Then, a few weeks later, Del visited Reverend Ian Sturrock about a computer he had previously sold him. Whilst there the Reverend revealed that he was an acquaintance of the late Freddie Robdal, which led to a brief conversation about both Freddie and "Alfred Broderick". It turned out that the Vicar himself had performed the ceremony, and after checking the church records, Trotter finally solved the mystery.
Heading outside, the triumphant Del Boy informed Albert and Rodney of his discovery. He then led the pair through the church graveyard to an adjacent beach. With that Del finally proceeded to tell his relatives where Freddie Robdal had buried the loot, pointing at the open ocean.
This revelation confused Rodney until an irate Del explained that Albert had withheld two vital pieces of information, about Freddie's status as a sailor and frogman. This left the two brothers furious. They pointed out that if Albert had just shared this information in the first place they could have put two and two together, whilst also sparing them the agro of looking through every churchyard and cemetery in South London.
With these revelations, the Trotters have solved the mystery that had baffled the police and other gangsters for 24 years. Finally, they knew what Freddie Robdal's ultimate plan was. Freddie knew that he would have to lay low until the heat was off him. Having obtained all of the required paperwork with the help of Joan Trotter, and the casket from Mr Jahan, he placed the gold into the coffin, then had it buried in the last place anybody would think to look. Since nobody knew who Alfred Broderick really was, Freddie managed to pass him off as a close friend and the ruse worked perfectly. Del even noted that ironically, two off duty policemen helped to carry the coffin, which took eight people lift it, to the boat.
As a result of his national service, and frogman training, Robdal had easy access to diving equipment. He was also familiar with the area, and Rodney suspected that he had been diving in the waters off the coast of Hampshire for years. As such, Freddie would have known exactly where to look for the coffin, once it was safe to retrieve the fortune. As Rodney put it, "All he had to do was wait for the dust to settle, then come back with the frogman gear, dive down and get it."
In his anger, Del tried to hit Albert with a spade but Rodney restrained him. As usual, a thick-skinned Albert soon got over it. With any hope of retrieving Robdal's fortune now gone, Rodney asked Albert if he looks like Freddie. Although he reluctantly admitted that Rodney did look a bit like Freddie, Albert once again dismisses the possibility that his nephew could be Freddie's son as rumours. Rodney, however, is not convinced saying he always felt like a cuckoo. He then rounds the whole thing off by calling Freddie a plonker for dying in such a silly manner.
Nothing more was said about Freddie for the next 16 years. Deep within his heart though, Rodney remained suspicious about his parentage, though he kept these speculations to himself. In 2003, these doubts were decisively put to rest when he borrowed a photo from Sid of the very first Jolly Boys Outing to Margate in 1960. As a treat for Del, Rodney wanted to get the picture enlarged. When he got the final photograph, however, he spotted something or more accurately somebody on it that wiped the smile right off his face.
Later that evening, Rodney's wife Cassandra Trotter, noted that Rodney had been acting weirdly all day. After being prompted by Cassandra, Rodney handed her the photograph and told her to look at it. After a bit of searching, she spotted a man in the group who looked identical to Rodney as a young adult. However, the photograph had been taken in July 1960, before Rodney was even born, let alone grown up.
Up until then, Rodney had only ever heard rumours about Freddie's affair, and of his physical resemblance to him but had never seen an actual picture of Freddie. Now, with photographic evidence in hand, Rodney did not hesitate to tell Cassandra with absolute certainty that the man in the picture, Freddie Robdal, was his real father. The pair were so similar that he assured Cassandra that they wouldn't need DNA with this one. He then told his wife what he knew about Freddie and the manner of his death. Rodney also told Cassandra that he was pretty sure that Del did not know the truth and that he had no intention of telling him. He said that doing so would "break his heart."
At the same time, back in their Nelson Mandella flat, Del Boy found the original photograph. Just like Rodney, the moment he saw Robdal's portrait, Del's smile immediately vanished as he realised that Rodney had now probably guessed the truth. Showing the photograph to his partner Raquel, Derek proceeded to reveal, what at the time, was undisclosed information about Freddie Robdal.
He told her that Robdal was a friend of his father's, and about the bad state of Joan and Reg's deteriorating relationship. Del explains that as a youngster, he never realised or understood who Freddie really was, as his parents always said to call him "Uncle Fred". This explains why Del Boy did not recognise Robdal's nickname or surname back in the Frogs Legacy. Del also admits to Raquel that he too secretly suspected that he and Rodney may not share the same father, noting that Rodney was quite tall for his age.
Del then reveals that contrary to what Rodney thinks, he did know the truth. At some point between the Frog's Legacy and his death in If They Could See Us Now, Uncle Albert had gotten drunk at a wet corset contest and told Del the full story about Joan's affair. He also reveals why there are so few surviving photographs of Joan Trotter. Aside from a couple of close-ups of Rodney and herself, all of the remaining pictures had featured Joan standing with Freddie. In Del's own words as Rodney got older, people would have noticed the "stimularities". To protect her friend's secret, and save Rodney from learning that he and Del are only half-siblings, Reenie Turpin had gathered up all of the photographs immediately after Joan's funeral, presumably whilst everybody else was distracted at the reception. She then took them away and burned them, so that nobody would ever find out the truth.
At the time, Del was unaware (or perhaps hoped against hope) that Rodney had found out about the identity of his real father. When asked by Raquel, Del Boy said he no intention of telling Rodney the truth. Just like his brother, he noted that doing so would "break his heart!"
After Rodney became a Dad himself, he did reveal that he knew the truth. He asked Del Boy if he was like Freddie in any way, other than looks. Del initially played dumb but when Rodney asked, he decided to put the matter to rest once and for all. He told Rodney that Freddie was a professional burglar, disloyal to his friends. He also described him as a cheat, a home breaker, a thief, a liar and a conman, so no they are not alike. Rodney Trotter is much better person than Freddie Robdal ever was.
Paternity of Rodney Trotter
The true identity of Rodney's father remained a constantly questioned mystery throughout the entire series, largely due to Joan's notorious repeated infidelity.
The seeds of suspicion that Freddie may have been Rodney's father were sewn by Reenie when she said to Albert, "I reckon the rumours were right, Joanie never was 100% sure, but you can see a likeness, can't you?"
Rodney's suspicions were also raised when Del unwittingly revealed that a henchmen to the Driscoll Brothers claimed that Freddie had a son by a woman living on the Trotters' estate, and also because Rodney and Freddie also shared a talent for art.
The case was finally put to rest in the 2003 Christmas special "Sleepless in Peckham", when Rodney found a photograph of the 1960 Jolly Boys' Outing and sees many faces he recognises. Instantly, he sees a man in the photo who looks almost identical to himself and realizes that the man in the picture is Freddie. Their uncanny likeness leaves both him, the rest of the Trotters and the audience in no doubt that Freddie is Rodney's biological father.
Del also admits that he knew Freddie as "Uncle Freddie" back then.
- While his name was never mentioned in this episode, in the 1983 Christmas episode, Thicker than Water, Grandad Trotter said that when Joan fell pregnant with Rodney she was having many rows with her husband Reg and was seeing "new friends".
- The only name mentioned was a trumpet player. One of those new friends
was Freddie Robdal, Rodney's real father. This ties in with Rock And Chips (24 January 2010) where Joan first met Freddie Robdal, a friend of Reg. In R&C Reg was told by Joan that she was pregnant again and he said it must have been the night when he came home drunk after celebrating his football team win and him and Joan got passionate, unaware she was already a few weeks pregnant by then.
- Freddie Robdal was first mentioned by name in The Frog's Legacy.
- He was said to be an old friend of Joan Trotter, at around the time she fell pregnant with Rodney, while she was married to Reg Trotter. Reenie Turpin whispered to Albert Trotter that there is a likeness between Rodney and Freddie Robdal.
Full Name: Frederick Robdal
Parents: Mr Robdal and Mrs Robdal
Children: Rodney Trotter (1960)
Grandchildren: Joan Trotter Jr.
First Cousins: Norman
Occupation: Sailor (1939-1945), Frogman (1939-1945), Professional Safecracker (1945-1963)
In The Frog's Legacy (25th December 1987), Reverend Ian Sturrock said that Freddie's parents were buried in the church which was in Hampshire. Freddie had a cottage down that way, as well as another in Bournemouth.